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Color Pickers - How do they work?

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Tech Specs


Skin Tone Checker

Image of the UI

Finding The Perfect Skin Tone Range

Editing photos as a color-blind person is tricky so simplifying that process is always a plus. One day I watched this this video and was inspired to find the perfect skin tone range and create this program

In order to find that range I took the initial colors from the video, and took samples of many peoples’ faces. With all of that data I started looking for patterns.

I initially used the RGB color model as it’s commonly used to define colors, however, I found that switching to the HSL model revealed a pattern much faster. It turns out that common skin tones have a fairly specific hue, and their lightness/saturation follows a simple 2D curve.

Essentially when a skin tone is light, the saturation is low; and when the tone is darker, the saturation is much higher. The final lightness/saturation relationship is shown to users as a dotted curve in the UI. The optimum hue was found be at around 20° and is also shown to users in the hue slider.

Code Implementation

The perfect skin tone range displayed with the internal proximity map
The internal limits used to determine whether a color is close to the ideal range.

The program works by checking a color’s proximity to the ideal skin tone range (the dotted curve displayed to users). A ‘proximity bitmap’ is used in code to measure whether a given color is close to the ideal range. The internally used bitmap is represented by the white shading in the above image.

The basic algorithm implemented in code is as follows:

With the given proximity information of the color now known, the program can provide hints to the user to improve the skin tone color.


Color Identifier

Image of the UI

Sourcing Color Names

It turns out there are many ways to name colors. As such it’s likely that different users would want to name their colors differently too. A web developer, for instance, might be interested in CSS color names. A color-blind user on the other hand might prefer simpler shading based names.

I decided to make the app color agnostic so that the user can use any color names they want. The app defaults to a shading based list of colors, but allows users to use external color name lists to overwrite the default names.

The following optional color name lists are shipped with the program:

Finding The Closest Color In Code

The program initially loads the internal or an external color name list into memory. Once a color is sampled, this internal list is simply checked against for color closeness. The closest color name is then displayed to the user. There are a number of ways to measure the difference between two colors, but this app uses the Euclidean formula.


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